A Positive Trumpian Vision

On election night/morning, I was up way too late (or early) basking in the glory that was the Trumpening, when I was pinged on Facebook Messenger by a friend who was also up way too late (or early). We discussed our various states of happiness and satisfaction at seeing the smug wiped from liberal commentators’ faces live on TV.  It was a glorious evening, but my friend was also hopeful that this would change the direction of my posting.  In other words, my blog, in regard to political matters, had gotten way too depressing; decline, doom and gloom…it doesn’t make cheery reading sometimes, and I couldn’t argue with his point.  In fact, I had recognized that myself.  Although I’ve loved arguing and discussing politics, for the past two years I’ve mostly stopped bringing it up around company simply because I’ve recognized that I don’t have very much hopeful to say, and even I don’t want to hear the same doom and gloom.  Of course, if someone else brought up politics, then I had no problem contributing to the discussion figuring, “Eh, you asked for it.”  But I knew that there was no point in me bringing it up or discussing it when it did nothing but make me a buzz kill.  Besides, there were other things to talk about.

But if there was anything that should make me hopeful about the future, a Trump victory, against all odds, with a Republican House and Senate should do the trick. And although there are plenty of negative things I could write about what that might mean, I think I owe myself at least one positive post on what a Trump administration could mean for arresting American Decline.

My central thesis on Democratic politics over the past couple of decades, and what’s wrong with American politics, goes back to Identity Politics. More and more we’re voting by tribe, rather than on issues.  With the major defeat Democrats have suffered, some of them are being introspective and are trying to see where they went wrong.  In The New York Times, The End of Identity Liberalism, explores whether Democrats had gone too far in dividing, and then buying votes, by identity.

“…But how should this diversity shape our politics? The standard liberal answer for nearly a generation now has been that we should become aware of and “celebrate” our differences. Which is a splendid principle of moral pedagogy — but disastrous as a foundation for democratic politics in our ideological age. In recent years American liberalism has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism’s message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing.

One of the many lessons of the recent presidential election campaign and its repugnant outcome is that the age of identity liberalism must be brought to an end. Hillary Clinton was at her best and most uplifting when she spoke about American interests in world affairs and how they relate to our understanding of democracy. But when it came to life at home, she tended on the campaign trail to lose that large vision and slip into the rhetoric of diversity, calling out explicitly to African-American, Latino, L.G.B.T. and women voters at every stop. This was a strategic mistake. If you are going to mention groups in America, you had better mention all of them. If you don’t, those left out will notice and feel excluded. Which, as the data show, was exactly what happened with the white working class and those with strong religious convictions…”

So I think it’s fair to say that the white working class did notice that they were excluded from Hillary Clinton’s America.  Not only did they not count, they were considered part of the problem. Some Democrats went even further and felt White Men were a problem to be dealt with.  If you are promising a Caucasian Kristallnacht, that’s not a way to win votes; at least white working class votes.  But this was no bug in the Clinton election machine; this was supposed to be a feature. The Obama 2012 re-election campaign explicitly excluded White Males as part of a re-election strategy.  Clinton planned to simply copy what worked with Obama; a coalition of the fringes implicitly against White Men. I don’t think the Democrats current soul searching on identity politics will last long.  Already they are considering Congressman Keith Ellison, 9/11 Truther, a far left ideologue and Muslim for DNC Chairman, Ellison is, as they might have said on 30 Rock, is a “two-for.” Whether that’s the right choice for a party rethinking its commitment to identity politics is obvious.

But that leaves an opening for a Trumpian alternative.  It’s not a new idea.  Paleo conservatism referred to it as Economic Nationalism, and Columnist Steve Sailer refers to it as Citizenism, or Civic Nationalism.  Basically, it’s a governing philosophy that prioritizes Americans and American national interests over more nebulous ideological goals.  This of course is much of what Trump stands for, and stands apart from much current Republican or Democratic platform planks.

Trade: Trade should serve the interests of American workers.  Opening markets is great, but labor cost shopping to set up American factories in other countries to dump the more expensive labor costs of the US, only to turn around and import those manufactured goods back to the US tariff free.

Immigration: The goals of US immigration policy should be to benefit American workers. It’s not to ease the unemployment problems of other countries (Mexico) or to provide coolie labor to American corporations (Indian coders) so they can fire more expensive American workers.

Foreign Policy: The goal of US foreign policy should be to advance US national interests, not to subordinate those interests to other nations or groups of nations, i.e. “the world.”  Although often the goals of the world and the United States may coincide, like the Gulf War.  Other times, they won’t, such as in Kosovo and Libya (and Syria could be added to the mix).

These are all policies that in theory should be attractive to the working and middle classes across all cultural, ethnic, or racial lines.  In a rational political culture, people would tend to vote their class interests.  However the US, in the throes of multi-cultural nonsense and identity politics people tend to vote their demographics.  Not in a perfect sense, and in the US in the 21st Century, your identity group isn’t simply “blood, soil, and gods.”  It can be your sexual orientation, your gender identity, or if you view yourself as “elite” or not.  But in modern America, your hyphen in most cases outweighs your identity as simply an American.

But still, this is mostly an ethnic/racial thing.  And most people who identify hyphen-American identify by their ethnic or racial group. After being told for decades by the overarching leftist oriented culture that is the most important defining thing about a person, good old fashioned assimilation has been stopped in its tracks. This of course spells doom to Republican or any version of Conservative politics, however writer John O’Sullivan wrote a brilliant piece in National Review called The Latino Voting Surge that Never Happened.  For me the surprise that a magazine that had defined itself in opposition to Donald Trump seems to have bended the knee and has for the most part accepted that Trump is the President elect.  In some ways, I imagine this acceptance was just as difficult for NR as it was for Hillary Clinton.  In any case, I encourage you to read the article, however these excerpts summarize the argument:

“That brings us to the second political conclusion: If Republicans campaign on the basis of the real ethnic nature of American society, they can win most elections most of the time. What is that real nature? Democrats and their allies like to present the electoral choice as one between a party of white America in retreat and one of minority America on the advance. As we have seen, however, their “white America” is a misnomer for a mainstream America that incorporates assimilated minorities so comfortably that they are generally unaware of having once belonged to a minority.” 

In other words, as I’ve said before, race may or may not be a social construct, but being white definitely is.

 “Pre-election commentary tended to suggest that, whether he intended it or not, Trump was the focus of a new politics of “white identity.” Some of Trump’s casual racial remarks certainly pointed in that direction. But his entire campaign, encapsulated in his slogan “Make America Great Again,” was directed to reviving a strong politics of national identity encompassing all Americans. Maybe the best way of accounting for the Latino vote, for instance, would be to say that Trump’s insulting remarks were ultimately outweighed by the fact that he presented a strong image of leadership that would put the interests of all Americans first. It is not hard to imagine that a Republican candidate who ran on a politics of cultivating and celebrating a generous American national identity but who also treated his opponents courteously and all citizens with respect would make his Majority-Minority coalition into a dominant electoral coalition in a less ravaged society.”

So everyone can be white!

Even within my demography is destiny worldview, I had left myself an out, as I wrote two years ago in Some Snags in the Inevitable Decline and Death of the GOP.  Every non white group isn’t African American, and is not going to give 90% of their vote to Democrats based on a paper bag skin tone test. And in the long run, every non white group isn’t even non white.  On some level, the Democrats recognize this and are fighting back:

”The White House is putting forward a proposal to add a new racial category for people from the Middle East and North Africa under what would be the biggest realignment of federal racial definitions in decades.

If approved, the new designation could appear on census forms in 2020 and could have far-reaching implications for racial identity, anti-discrimination laws and health research.

Under current law, people from the Middle East are considered white, the legacy of century-old court rulings in which Syrian Americans argued that they should not be considered Asian — because that designation would deny them citizenship under the1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. But scholars and community leaders say more and more people with their roots in the Middle East find themselves caught between white, black and Asian classifications that don’t fully reflect their identities.”

If the Democrats thought they could get away with it, they would create 100 different racial categories and end the non-Hispanic white majority right now.  So in the same way I noted a Trumpian political platform that should be attractive to a broad majority of Americans, there is a social agenda needed to unhinge the left’s Balkanization of the country:

The Census: Get rid of the Hispanic category.  It serves no useful purpose and serves a lot of dangerous ones.  It’s a pseudo racial category that’s an attempt to keep anyone from a country where Spanish is the dominate language in the same downtrodden group, from a classics professor from Barcelona to an illiterate Guatemalan peasant. Although these are ultimately political decisions, I would trade having a Mestizo category in order to get rid of the Hispanic category.  At least Mestizo’s can arguably claim to be sort of a racial category.  Obviously I would oppose adding a separate Middle Eastern category.

Promote the Mainstream:  I think O’Sullivan really hit on something when he suggested that white America is really mainstream America.  So maybe it should just be referred to that way, in words and speeches, the goal is bringing everyone into mainstream America.

Junk Affirmative Action:  Affirmative Action has been a very effective tool in splitting up the country.  “Diverse” vs White People.   This is the pivot that has created the current social situation where the Democratic Party is partly defined in opposition to white people.  Middle Easterners would be a lot less interested in defining themselves as non white if they were not able to take advantage of minority small business loans and other affirmative action programs.  Take away the giveaway advantages of being non white and people would be less interested in defining themselves that way.  At least for the near term, I would still keep affirmative action for African Americans and Native Americans.  At least those two groups can plausibly claim historic discrimination that’s damaged current prospects, something that other ethnic categories can’t plausibly claim.

A combination of these political and social planks could create a governing platform for a new governing majority in America, mainstream Americans.  Of course this hinges on how successful a Trump Presidency is.  Considering how improbable a Trump Presidency was in the first place, I’m going to bet on continued winning.

 

A few More Election Observations

Just a couple of observations:

The Return of the War on Women: It wasn’t really called that this year, but in the pearl clutching, fainting couch department, it was 2012 all over again.  Where Romney was portrayed as insensitive and clueless when it comes to women, Trump has been portrayed as a sexual predator.  The failure of the typical War-on-Women attacks in 2014 lead many Republican “thinkers” to believe that it was an expired tactic, but that’s really just a reflection of the difference in the electorate that shows up in Presidential year elections and non Presidential ones.  I predict that in 2018 Republicans will once again declare the War-on-Women tactics dead, and then be surprised when they work like a charm in 2020.

Power over Principles:  Ideology barely made a single campaign stop in probably one of the most ideology free Presidential campaigns in my lifetime.  The Democrats have long espoused a policy, modeled off of Samuel Gompers’s famous quote, of “more.”  The Democratic coalition has long been a “more” party, rather than an ideological party; as long as that “More” comes from the other guys. That’s been Democratic Policy for decades, but the shift of some #nevertrump holdouts as the election neared showed that no matter how you want to slice it ideologically, there are two broad coalitions in American politics, a generally left leaning extraction coalition, and a generally right leaning production coalition.  How else to explain that the same anti war crowd that voted for Obama based on his promise to leave Iraq now voted for the candidate that promised to confront Russia, militarily if necessary, to establish a no fly zone in Syria?

It’s the Identity stupid:  The economy barely showed up as an issue in the campaign.  In fact, it was probably less of a factor in any election in my lifetime, and that includes economic high points hit during the Reagan and Clinton administrations.  The Obama economy has been no high point, but, as I observed in 2012:

“Even if Romney had won, it would have been the last gasp of an archaic idea in US politics; political parties that are more or less based on policy decisions and ideas and to a lesser degree, ideology and the left/right continuum   Eventually, I suspect that we will be voting according to our ethnic, gender, and sexual preferences.  In other words, our politics will become more tribal.”

I’m quite the prophet!  So the economy and public policy proposals (except on the Trump side) were minor accessories to this year’s election, not the central focus as they had been in the past.  But we’re a different country now so tribe is more important than policy. Meanwhile, Trump won about 60% of the white vote although I think these numbers understate that.  Hopefully there will be better data in a few weeks and I’m betting it will show a much higher percentage of the white vote.  That’s the only way I can figure that Trump won such a large victory and won so many previously out of reach states when the percentage of the white vote dropped 2% from 72% in 2012 to 70% in 2016. Although Trump won a higher percentage of both the Black vote and Hispanic vote than Romney did, that just doesn’t give you the margin of victory that Trump managed.  As an aside, that 2% drop in the White electorate every four years seems like a good rule of thumb to calculate how much more of the white vote Republicans will need to win in the future to be competitive.  Some liberal wag on twitter made the comment last night that the white working class finally started voting like a minority.

Yep.

That’s the future, love it or hate it (I hate it personally, but I didn’t bake this cake).

Policy loses to Persuasion:  Dilbert writer Scott Adams has distinguished himself as the preeminent political prognosticator of this election.  Adams predicted a Trump landslide in 2015 and has been following up on the campaign at his blog, which has turned out to be the most accurate site on Trump for the duration of the campaign.  Adam’s experience in the techniques of persuasion gave invaluable insight into why stupid things that Trump said weren’t stupid at all, they were deliberate attempts to create an imagery and mood and how to feel about something.  Once he had tagged Jeb Bush as “low energy Jeb” you couldn’t help but analyze his speech and the way he physically handled himself to see if he was “low energy.”  Brilliant!   All of Jeb’s 100 million dollars couldn’t save him after that.

I’m sure I’ll have other observations about the election and I’ll post them as they come, but the Trump victory is really making me look forward to Thanksgiving Day dinner conversation.  I intend to make Thanksgiving great again!

 

Seizing the Cockpit of the Flight 93 Election

trump-victory

OK I was wrong.

Back in August I predicted that Trump would lose to Clinton, and even further back, in 2014, I predicted that Senate would go back to the Democrats. Instead, Trump smashed down the gates of the establishment, winning the Presidency with (as of this writing) 279 electoral votes.  I also predicted that Florida would go Democratic this year.  I was wrong about that too. Instead, this Black Swan Event totally disrupted the polls and the process. How sure was I that Hillary Clinton was going to win?  Last weekend I wrote a totally different draft version of this post, one that made the assumption that Clinton would win: one that would be ready to publish as soon as the networks called the election.  I didn’t even bother to prepare an alternate version.  After all, Clinton had been leading in the polls most of the year, and in that way it resembled 2012 or 1996.  The polls would have to have been totally wrong in order to get another result.

Well they were wrong.

This election truly was the Flight 93 election. While writing this I had thought for sure I had written about this article previously and apparently didn’t.  And for that, I apologize to my readers, since I regard it as the most important piece that’s come out this year in defining the stakes of this election for the right.  Well even though the election is over, it’s still worth reading in its entirety. But just a few excerpts to summarize the main thesis:

“2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die. You may die anyway. You—or the leader of your party—may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees.

Except one: if you don’t try, death is certain. To compound the metaphor: a Hillary Clinton presidency is Russian Roulette with a semi-auto. With Trump, at least you can spin the cylinder and take your chances.

To ordinary conservative ears, this sounds histrionic. The stakes can’t be that high because they are never that high—except perhaps in the pages of Gibbon. Conservative intellectuals will insist that there has been no “end of history” and that all human outcomes are still possible. They will even—as Charles Kesler does—admit that America is in “crisis.” But how great is the crisis? Can things really be so bad if eight years of Obama can be followed by eight more of Hillary, and yet Constitutionalist conservatives can still reasonably hope for a restoration of our cherished ideals?”

“Let’s be very blunt here: if you genuinely think things can go on with no fundamental change needed, then you have implicitly admitted that conservatism is wrong. Wrong philosophically, wrong on human nature, wrong on the nature of politics, and wrong in its policy prescriptions. Because, first, few of those prescriptions are in force today. Second, of the ones that are, the left is busy undoing them, often with conservative assistance. And, third, the whole trend of the West is ever-leftward, ever further away from what we all understand as conservatism.”

“One of the Journal of American Greatness’s deeper arguments was that only in a corrupt republic, in corrupt times, could a Trump rise. It is therefore puzzling that those most horrified by Trump are the least willing to consider the possibility that the republic is dying. “

Basically, the country is declining, which is an argument I’ve been making for years. I don’t believe any other Republican candidate could have won this year.  The Republican brand is trashed and only a Republican who has an identity of something other than a Republican, like Trump, could have fought through that.  That eliminates almost any other “normal” candidate.  Normal has not been working for a while.

So the question has to be asked, does this mean my basic thesis, that our politics is becoming more tribal and based on identity politics wrong?  I think it actually confirms it. I’ll be curious to look at more hard data on the demographic breakdown as it’s released in the days ahead, but winning Ohio and especially Pennsylvania, which last went Republican in 1988, shows that Trump did exceptionally well with the white working class.  Trumps version of the Sailer Strategy, which is that Republicans should go after the white vote in the same way that Democrats go after the Black or Hispanic vote, appeared successful.  Although I don’t think that was an intentional racial appeal on Trump’s part, when your platform reflects the concerns of the white working class, the results will be similar. As Lee Kwan Yew, the late former President of Singapore noted, “In multiracial societies, you don’t vote in accordance with your economic interests and social interests, you vote in accordance with your race and religion.”  That’s been the trend in the US for a generation; everyone is bunching up according to their identity group.  The last people to recognize that was happening were the Republicans.  I think at this point, they’ll have to learn to accept and deal with that reality.

So it looks like the passengers were able to rush the cockpit and grab the controls, but it’s not clear yet if they can land it.

 

A Reckoning

When it comes to anti white racism, I admit I’ve been pretty tolerant of it.  Mostly because anti white racism can be pretty funny so it’s hard to take seriously.  As anyone who has perused Salon, the website for white people who hate white people; can tell you, it’s sometimes hard not to get a good laugh out of it.  It’s hard to remember now, but at one time Salon used to be a legitimate and respectable magazine. But with stories like, White Men Must be Stopped, White Guys are Killing Us, America’s Angriest White Men, GOP base is still white and aging, and Time to Profile White Men; even the parody twitter account “Salon.com” has had difficulty topping the real articles and has often resorted to re-tweeting Salon’s real tweets.

Of course when real journalists do it, it’s slightly less funny, such as Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, whose article, On a Welcome End to American Whiteness, cheers for the day of demographic apocalypse for white people in America.  Milbank sees the declining white population as an opportunity to redo American culture, to get rid of an “excess of individualism, short-term thinking and prioritizing of rights over duties.

Yeah, we wouldn’t want too many rights gumming up the works.

So I suppose I do fundamentally view a major difference between the comic anti white hatred of Salon, ranting Black Nationalists on Youtube, or various SJW’s on college campuses, and legitimate journalists positing their anti white racism in the public sphere without any backlash at all.

anand-giridharadas

That’s why I found myself someone shocked by the comments of New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas on Morning Joe this week. Giridharadas is one of those semi regular guests to the set of the MSNBC show that doesn’t, to my view, seem to offer anything particularly compelling in the way of opinion other than the mouthing of whatever the latest conventional wisdom is.  In the case of Giridharadas he also brings some sort of incomprehensible thing going on with his hair.  It’s like he’s stacked a couple of bird’s nests up there.  I guess that’s his gimmick.

So check out the video at this link of Giridharadas.

Or I’ll just transcribe the relevant comments.  When co-host and white male Willie Geist asked Giridharadas a question about what happens to the frustrations of the people who supported Trump post election, he responded thusly:

“I don’t want to wait for a leader to deal with this energy because I think how badly we went when we don’t deal with each other as human beings. I think every institution needs to do this. I would say to your point, this needs to be a two-way reconciliation, and here’s my suggestion for kind of each side. I think the elites we’re talking about who relate to understanding this pain, who didn’t see the roots of Trump, need to see it–need to re-engage with What American needs to understand what’s doing on.

I think the people who went that way and that Trump movement and perhaps supported things about women they don’t actually support or supported things about bashing Muslims that they don’t in their deepest of hearts support, need to think about the fact that globalization and all of that was hard on everybody. It wasn’t just hard on White guys. For some reason, women lost their jobs in globalization, Black and Brown people lost their jobs in globalization, and managed not to lash out. I think there needs to be a reckoning, frankly, with white manhood in this country.”

Geist’s reply?  “Interesting.”

Putting aside the idea that if globalization is so hard on everyone, why are we doing it, I thought the real take away was, I realized that these guys, the establishment elite types like Milbank and Giridharadas were serious.  They really do regard whites as some sort of problem, like an atavistic hold over that’s harshing everyone’s buzz.  It’s pretty blatantly racist, but it’s not a racism that anyone particularly cares about.

I’ve been writing about the increase in tribalism and identity politics for years, but it looks like it’s going for a new level.  Nothing good will come out of this of course, but now it’s not just that nothing good will come out of this in a general way, but now I feel like I’m being targeted personally.  Unfortunately Joe Scarborough recognized the rabbit hole Giridharadas was going down and sidetracked the conversation into one of “reconciliation,” I would have much rather heard Giridharadas elaborate on his point and find out just what exactly he had in mind with his reckoning “with white manhood.”

Although I think I’ll eventually find out.

 

The Unbridgeable Republican Split

As a chronicler of the Republican Civil Wars I’ve gotten a lot of entertainment value at watching the various factions come apart at the scenes.  One day, this will make a great PBS special narrated by Keith David.  Until then, I’ll do my best to jot down my observations in the hopes that screenshots of my blog will be shown while Mr. David narrates.

So I was listening to the Ricochet podcast and they were interviewing Avik Roy, a Republican health policy analyst who was with the Romney campaign and has written extensively on Obamacare. The subject was his recent interview with Vox about the soon to be death of the Republican Party.  That’s certainly a provocative and legitimate case to argue, but in this case I found it extremely self serving.  Roy blames nationalism, which he conflates with white nationalism as the reason for the GOP’s decline. Roy recounts one of the founding myths of the identity politics left; the “southern strategy” going all the way back to 1964 and the nomination of Barry Goldwater.  This leads him to the conclusion that the bulk of the GOP electorate is motivated by white identity politics rather than conservative principles.

As someone who’s been on political forums for years, the subject of the southern strategy comes up every few weeks as providing the imprimatur that Conservatives in general and Republicans in particular are racists, motivated by race, and thinking of nothing other than race.  Considering that’s a good description of the left, there is a lot of projection involved, but this is standard fare for the left.  What’s new is it becoming standard fare for Republicans.

Or should I say a certain type of Republican, the #nevertrumpers who’ve fought Trump all the way to the nomination, in a way they’ve never fought Obama or the Democrats.  But nothing seems to bring joy to the #nevertrump crowd like calling their fellow Republicans racists. So establishment types like Roy, who didn’t seem bothered by either the southern strategy or Goldwater’s nomination until the past year, are reaching for the same racial playbook that the left has used.  Now they can finally call someone racists, and if they’re lucky, win the approval of teen writers at Vox or some MSNBC reporter.  Roy isn’t the first GOPe who’s decided to throw the entire non-establishment GOP under the bus as racists.  Paul Ryan, Erick Erickson, and Senator Ben Sasse among others also tossed out the racist charge against fellow Republicans.

Noted anti-Trumpist and National Review writer Jonah Goldberg doubled down on Roy’s nationalism=white racism thesis last week in ‘New Nationalism” Amounts to Generic White Identity Politics.  Goldberg, a writer I’ve often admired and enjoyed his witty writing style, boils down his argument into probably the dumbest thing published in NR (not counting anything written by Katherine Timpf).  The argument basically boils down to observing that Trump’s support is mostly white.

That’s it.

Now it’s interesting to note that for both Roy and Goldberg (among many others) the keyword here is “Nationalism” as in nationalism being just another code word for white racism.  It’s almost mind-blowing that these arguments are coming from ostensibly conservative pundits. So I’m really unclear on what basis these two sides ever come back together again.

Imagine a scenario in which Trump loses and loses big, say more than Romney’s defeat, with a voter percentage of over 4% and an electoral blowout where Trump wins less than 200 electoral votes.  Will the #nevertrump crowd cackle with glee and then reach out their hand to everyone they’ve called ignorant hate filled racists for the past year and say, “On to 2020?”

Or imagine a scenario where Trump loses narrowly by #nevertrump margins such as Trump losing the vote in Utah due to Independent candidate Evan McMullin.  When it’s clear that the margin of victory was lost due to Republican establishment intransigence, on what basis would the people who voted Trump and really wanted to win this year, ever forgive those who spent a year trying to not only sabotage his campaign but denigrate his supporters?

Or this:  Trump wins.  The establishment and #nevertrump is discredited, but now that Trump has won they want to jump on the bandwagon.  Again, you have people who not only tried to sabotage victory and called everyone racist to boot, but now want to resume what they feel is their God given leadership roles in a movement they tried to destroy.  Is that going to be forgiven?

My feeling is whatever the electoral scenario; there is a divide in the GOP that is now permanent.  In 21st century America, calling someone a racist is throwing down the gauntlet. Politicians are used to hurling invective at each other and then hammering out deals, but these are attacks on the voting public; by presumably the same side. How are commentators like Roy and Goldberg ever going to support anything having to do with the GOP again when they’ve just smeared the majority of its voters as white identity racists?  And more to the point, why would they want to?  They’ve just identified the GOP as the racist party after all.

So whatever happens on Election Day, in a certain sense it’s over between these two factions of the GOP.  These are factions that, bad names and invective aside, have polar opposite policy goals.  The GOPe wants amnesty, open borders, and unlimited “free” trade; no matter how many US jobs are lost.  The Trump faction (which is numerically the far bigger faction) wants exactly the opposite. Where do they meet in the middle on policy?

These issues seem so fundamental that it’s hard to not see a major political realignment coming out of this clash.  The Republican establishment could find itself fleeing to the Democrats, turning it into an overtly free trade party.  Or maybe the Republican Party just splits into two parties (although I find that unlikely due to the US’s first past the post elections). Maybe the old left/right paradigm is breaking down into a new globalist/nationalist one.

What Liberals Don’t Get About Conservatives

What liberals don’t get about conservatives is basically everything.  This occurred to me this weekend while chatting on the political web forums.  Someone posted a news story of a crazed Republican School Board member going into a strange rant on 9/11, cryptanalysis, and George Bush.  Anyone viewing the video would be hard pressed not to draw the conclusion that the woman is undergoing a breakdown and probably needs some sort of mental health counseling.

Unless of course you’re a liberal who views that as typical right-wing behavior.

This could be dismissed as a comment of a troll, of which there are plenty on the internet, but I had the impression that the person was more or less sincere in viewing people on the right as crazed and irrational.  And there could well be a more or less scientific reason for this.

Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist who has written the book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. The book tries to show how morality is different depending on your political ideology. Reading a review of the book at a law blog, I came across this point:

One other point that I find really interesting and important about Haidt’s work is his findings on the ability of different groups to empathize across these ideological divides. So in his book (p. 287) Haidt reports on the following experiment: after determining whether someone is liberal or conservative, he then has each person answer the standard battery of questions as if he were the opposite ideology. So, he would ask a liberal to answer the questions as if he were a “typical conservative” and vice-versa. What he finds is quite striking: “The results were clear and consistent. Moderates and conservatives were most accurate in their predictions, whether they were pretending to be liberals or conservatives. Liberals were the least accurate, especially those who describe themselves as ‘very liberal.’ The biggest errors in the whole study came when liberals answered the Care and Fairness questions while pretending to be conservatives.” In other words, moderates and conservatives can understand the liberal worldview and liberals are unable to relate to the conservative worldview, especially when it comes to questions of care and fairness.

This struck me since it matches up pretty well with my own anecdotal experiences.  Conservatives get where Liberals are coming from, but Liberals just don’t get where Conservatives are coming from.  In the US, we live in liberal-land. The educational system is run by liberals, TV & Movies are made and produced by liberals, and most importantly, all of the major news media, either Newspapers, magazines, or TV news, are run by liberals (liberals can bleat, “but what about Fox?”- But that just shows Fox is an outlier). So I’m constantly, surrounded by the worldview of liberals. For me to take a test or pass as a liberal would be ridiculously easy. I could go to a Netroots Nation, Think Progress convention or meeting and easily pass for one of them. I know your buzzwords and prejudices. As Patton said, (and I paraphrase) “You liberal bastards, I read your book!”

All things being equal, knowing nothing of politics, people should tend to be liberal. Of course the caveat to that is all things are not equal, but you can see the power of liberal institutions to set the agenda. That’s why, in an attempt to turn the conversation away from Obamacare, the administration started talking about about income inequality,  The MSM dutifully followed along because being liberal institutions, they would rather talk about income inequality than Obamacare too. We really should be talking about economic growth and job creation but that’s not an issue that can help the administration or that they have any real ideas about.  But because we all live in liberal land, liberals never have to think about their ideology or challenge any of their premises, which is something that conservatives have to do all the time because they are constantly getting push back on their premises.

As if to double down on Haidt’s ideas, last week The Nation ran an article called, Why the Curious Right Wing Silence on Michael Sam? Some passages are well worth highlighting:

Yes, the crazies in Westboro Baptist Church and some of the more reptilian swamps of the right-wing blogosphere have let loose with the homophobia, but the mainstream has been silent. It is not just Fox. Doesn’t National Review or The Weekly Standard have anything interesting, or even uninteresting, to say about any of this? Nothing? Really?

The New Republic’s Cohn even put out a plaintive tweet asking people on the right, “What do conservatives & Republicans think about a gay player in the NFL? Honest question, hoping for positive answers.” He did receive a curt tweet or two in response, mostly of the, “I don’t care as long as he can play football” variety.

In other words, the left cannot accept that in political terms, this is mostly a non story on the right.  For them, this is HUGE!  The answer is too simple for the Left to accept. For them, identity politics trumps everything. It’s why they can’t accept opposition to Obama’s policies as being anything other than closeted racism. When the most important thing about President Obama is his race, how else could opposition to his economic, social or foreign policies be interpolated as anything other than racism?

On the one hand, it’s kind of amusing that the Left is so clueless on figuring out the Right that even the simplest explanations elude them.  But on the other hand, I really wish they understood what I was trying to say.  When their default to anything I say is along the lines of a mentally ill school board member, it shows how large the gulf is between us.

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Obama Wins; the Republic Loses

On the one hand, I should be happy that I called it right once again.  Months ago I predicted that Obama would win and I was right.  But on the other hand…Obama won.

The practical effects of that election are that Obamacare, with all of the costs and “unintended” consequences, is here to stay.  To me, this election was a referendum on Obamacare, so I am disappointed in what I see will be the declining state of healthcare in the country. So over the course of the next few years the cost of health care will go up and its quality will decline.  That’s the perfect mixture to lead to Obamacare Part II: Single payer.

But that’s for the future.  For now, the biggest take away is that not that this was just a win for a Democratic incumbent by a rather large margin, but it was the first of what will be the new normal in American national elections:  The triumph of identify politics.

Of course identity politics are nothing new.  That’s been around a long time, but we are entering a new era.  President Obama’s campaign strategy, as leaked by Thomas Edsall on the pages of the New York Times last year.

For decades, Democrats have suffered continuous and increasingly severe losses among white voters. But preparations by Democratic operatives for the 2012 election make it clear for the first time that the party will explicitly abandon the white working class.

All pretense of trying to win a majority of the white working class has been effectively jettisoned in favor of cementing a center-left coalition made up, on the one hand, of voters who have gotten ahead on the basis of educational attainment — professors, artists, designers, editors, human resources managers, lawyers, librarians, social workers, teachers and therapists — and a second, substantial constituency of lower-income voters who are disproportionately African-American and Hispanic.

Considering that working class whites have been the mainstay of the Democratic Party since the New Deal, this was quite a startling change in campaign strategy.  But the results speak for themselves.  You can win the White House without working class whites.  This isn’t really about demography though.  That is an issue, and I’ve already heard it discussed on the post election babble on TV this morning.  As Chuck Todd said on Morning Joe this morning, “The demographic time bomb went off.” But that’s not what I’m talking about; it’s really about how we identify ourselves.

That lesson will revolutionize American politics for the future.  But I may have been among the last to pick up on the idea of whites as “the other” so I’m playing a bit of catch up.  I didn’t even know that white was now being used as a pejorative; at least culturally.  Politically it’s been going on for a while. That’s clear to the most casual viewer of MSNBC. Slate took the position that white men were out of step with the rest of America, with a 23 point gap between Romney and Obama among whites.   What’s up with those white people?  Why can’t they get with the program?

As the lamest, majority/minority in America, white people continue to both fascinate and repel the “normal” people of the country.  As a San Francisco Chronicle columnist put it, … older white males remain the most terrified, lopsided, confused demographic in all of America, perhaps even more acutely – and more embarrassingly –  in this election than any other in modern history.

It’s clear that since Obama carried only 39% of white voters, they are no longer necessary for a win.

Four years from now, as the demography of the United States changes, these trends will become more pronounced.  In the political process at least, whites will be just another minority vying for power among a coalition of other groups. Single white women are already their own tribe.  So what does that mean for our politics?   Even if Romney had won, it would have been the last gasp of an archaic idea in US politics; political parties that are more or less based on policy decisions and ideas and to a lesser degree, ideology and the left/right continuum   Eventually, I suspect that we will be voting according to our ethnic, gender, and sexual preferences.  In other words, our politics will become more tribal.

This has been Democratic standard operating procedures for decades, but the Republican Party has mostly (not entirely) managed to avoid direct appeal to ethnic loyalties.  But it was a doomed policy.  General appeals to all Americans left out those who identified by ethnicity first.  Decades of multiculturalism have taught the country that ethnicity was first.  Eventually leaving a Republican party left with those who didn’t think of themselves as having an identity beyond their American national identity.

So the Republicans became the political party of white people.

That’s fairly standard outside of the first world nations that have representative governments.  Political parties are drawn along tribal lines and politics is a game of acquiring wealth, status, and patronage through the political process for the winning political party; which is really a surrogate for a tribal or ethnic group or a coalition of ethnic groups.  But that’s the lowest level of the political process, and our politics is reverting to it.  Our democracy is becoming less advanced, not more.

There will be lots of Republican weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth for the upcoming weeks, with the usual cast of “experts” giving their opinions that the Republican Party is too far right, and needs to change.  But we had in Mitt Romney one of the most moderate Republican candidates in decades, and in him a candidate who was competent and qualified.  He was just in the wrong tribe.

So for the long term big picture, Identity politics will have more to with who supports what party then any public policies, programs, or ideology.  Anyone who has studied anything about post colonial third world democracies knows what that looks like, and it’s not pretty.

We are all hyphens now.

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